Phi Beta Cons

How to Live: Wisdom From the MLA Conference

The MLA Delegate Assembly continued with its clarification of sign and signifier in approcing a change in preferred terminology from “illegal alien” to undocumented workers.” Inside Higher Education reports:


The Delegate Assembly approved every motion and resolution that came before it Friday by a fairly large margin, with the closest vote being on a resolution that the MLA should urge the replacement of the term “illegal aliens” with “undocumented workers,” and that undocumented workers should be eligible for in-state tuition in the states where they reside. That resolution, which will go to the Executive Council for approval and, if approved in February, will then be submitted to the entire membership for ratification this fall, was approved 73 to 30, but, although the closest vote, stimulated no open discussion. (On New Year’s Day, however, Lake Superior State University released its annual list of misused words and phrases, criticizing the use of phrases like the one the MLA is suggesting — and comparing it to calling a drug dealer an “undocumented pharmacist.”)


At the MLA Conference 73-30 is a close vote, it seems. Rather unexpectedly, though, a resolution in support of Ward Churchill failed amidst procedural problems. The “MLA Radical Caucus” (Mr. Verloc works for this) drafted an “emergency resolution” in defense of Churchill and ethnic-studies programs. The sainted caucus faced problems because they couldn’t mention Churchill by name without inspiring a U. Colorado response, and instead advanced a general statement of support for ethnic studies–which the MLA organizing committee did not find a real emergency.

A fourth of MLA conference voters support “illegal alien” designations?  They failed to regard defense of Ward Chruchill as an “emergency?” Await reporting on this year’s “Moderate” conference.


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